On Tuesday, I went to an artists meeting – set up by fellow blogger Josie Jenkins ( https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/skygroundbeing/post/52429535 )

It was wet and miserable, it had been a horrible day in work (half term – loads of kids ) and we couldn’t find the place. I felt like turning back and going home.

I’m glad now that I went, but it wasn’t totally what I expected.

There’s been a lot of ‘chatter’ on social networking sites over the years …a lot of unease, agitation and some downright anger in some cases.

Put yourself in this position… you live or work in a large City. There are many, many studio spaces and artists groups,  probably  hundreds and hundreds of artists.

OK, so now imagine there is a big artists festival – The Biennial or WCAF for example. Both want to represent an artists group.

What would you do – being one of the many, many artist mentioned above, if only ONE particular studio group was chosen for these festivals? The same group every time. No one else is asked, there is no choice, no way to apply, it is a completely closed door.

Hard to believe its happens isn’t it? Hmmmm

Anyway, everyone was very polite. the group in question were only mentioned once ‘They are perhaps very good at marketing themselves’, said as a kind of hopeful suggestion. Yes, perhaps :-/

But obviously, that wasn’t what the meeting was about. It was about getting artists together to encourage us all to support each other and ‘make something happen’ during the Biennial year.

I was surprised how many groups attended. It was a good turn out for such a miserable night and I’m sure Josie will do an update about it on her next blog post.

It did make me think about how much support we give each other. How many artists exhibitions do we actually go to? Out of all of the ones I was personally invited to,  I visited one last week. Mainly because this artist had made the effort to visit one of mine.

I met some people  I hadn’t seen for a while at the meeting, so it was good to catch up. I miss that ‘artist talking’ thing. There’s never time or opportunity, so  it makes you feel like you are part of something, instead of going on your own all of the time.

I’m looking forward to the next meeting.

The next day, my day off, I headed back to the pottery studio to glaze my planes.   I expected them to have cracked in the kiln, so I was really happy to see that they had all worked.

I really have no idea what direction these are going in, I’m just enjoying the experimentation and the working in a different medium.








I’ve just put in a request for unpaid leave in work and for some reason, it has made me feel incredibly apprehensive.

Like most artists, I’ve been struggling with the age old ‘time and money’ dilemma and not quite knowing how to get round it.

Of course I’ve gone through all of the options… can I give up work? (NO) Can I go part time (NO) so what else was there other than to continuously use up my leave? (Which really I should be using for my own recreation)

So I had a casual discussion with one of my managers about it.

I can take a sabbatical for anything up to a year. Wow – that would be fantastic!!

..…but sabbaticals can’t be used for other employment and you can’t pay NI and tax (through work) or pay into the pension scheme during that period.  That doesn’t sound so rosy after all.

Unpaid leave though…. This can be used for shorter periods and you still get usual work benefits.

The request has to be made 3 months in advance, so it’s a while off yet, but the thought of spending up to a month off to do my own work (sadly I can’t support myself for longer) fills me with such uneasiness I can’t quite focus.

I think perhaps its the sudden realisation of ‘Yes you can’ instead of focusing on the ‘No you can’t’ for so long. That ….and with the odd comments already coming in ( you just want to skive off) I have to prove  I can produce a significant body of work during my time off   (albeit mainly to myself)






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Yesterday, I travelled up to Leeds with a friend to see the British Art Show at Leeds art Gallery.

We got there by 10.30, after leaving early to avoid the traffic . Not bad going really.

Although I’d been to the Henry Moore Institute (next door) a couple of times, I don’t think I’d actually been to Leeds Art gallery before.  Its an imposing building, with so many impressive features including the relatively recent uncovering of the hall café with its beautiful Victorian tiles.

The first artwork (film) I came across (as it was closest to the loos!) was ‘Children of the unquiet’ by Mikhail Karikis. It was absolutely mesmerising and I sat through the entire thing, which is rare for me.

I did like a lot of the work on display, but to be honest, I didn’t think it was outstanding. Maybe its because I’ve worked in a gallery for a long time though. You get this ‘Sameness’ occurring and its hard to see the new in things. Was this meant to be the cream of British art? What made the curators decide who should go in this exhibition?  I only recognised 5 names too which was surprising.

I think I liked the textile works of Linder and also Caroline Achaintre the most, but I need to check over my notes and scribbles to mentally revisit a couple of the others that stuck out.

It was a good end to my 5 busy days off… Exhibition visits – BAS8 and Paul Neagu in Leeds….Niamh O’Malley at the Bluecoat, Liverpool….2 workshops (Ceramics and Tatty Divine necklace making)…4 days in the studio …. and  finally, the chat and assistance in boot making with the cobbler…..

No wonder I was tired in work today. (tired…but invigorated :-) )



Last week, while lying on the settee with a bad dose of the lurgy, I flicked through an old sketchbook, trying to kick start my brain into thinking again.

There were several ideas that I’d had, but had abandoned either because 1) They were stupid ideas  2) They were impractical 3) I didn’t have the confidence to do them  4) They took me out of my comfort zone and worryingly 5) I couldn’t be bothered making the effort.

I had five days off work coming up (This week) so I thought, why not start going through that list and see how many I can do. If they don’t work, fine. At least I can say that I tried.

First on the list was making a few of my paper works into more solid structures. I’d thought about using clay for a while, but couldn’t think how I could get access to the materials and kiln without committing myself to a 10 week course.

It was just by chance then that I discovered a local studio who offered 2 hour sessions for a small fee.

As it turns out, I was pretty rubbish at throwing and kneading the Clay – ‘Are you trying to make bread or something’??   and I think the others who were busy decorating their pots were a little bemused at my cutting out plane shapes with biscuit cutters, but I got there and was so happy with the result.

I have to wait a couple of weeks now before they can go in the kiln, but it means I can get on with other things while waiting.

So next on the list, was a visit to the cobblers across the road from my studio. While making my paper boots for the Barnaby festival, I’d thought about asking this guy to help me make a pair from leather.  Again, I’d thought about it…then crossed it off my list as I thought a business would think it was stupid idea and a complete waste of time.

But what did I have to lose? I went in.

To my delight, he was completely fascinated by the tiny paper boots I had produced, and was pleased to help. Unfortunately, he didn’t stitch leather anymore and didn’t know anyone else who did this dying skill, but he was happy to talk through solutions.

He gave me a pot of glue and strips of strong leather to use as soles. I just need to find an old leather bag or something from a charity shop, to cut up. (no easy task – I went to 6 already without luck, but will try a different area today) If I can’t find leather this time, I guess I can use a faux mix – at least to get me on the track again.

Its such a good feeling to actually act on something I’d thought about for a while.  I just can’t believe how much I have achieved in just a few days. Its been a dream – being able to work without any pressure of time or money.









According to social media, on this day  two years ago, I was ‘off to the AIR: Artists Interaction and Representation consultation for invited artists at Castlefield Gallery‘.

Six years ago, I was commissioned to design one of the penguins that were to be installed around Liverpool.

Although I try not to over use Social media, it is an interesting tool to see how my career has been shaping.

Six years ago, I was still part time. It was great having the time to try new ideas and experiment with my own work, but not so great to have the bills that couldn’t be paid.

But hey ho..

Today has been a bit of a chaotic day off. I was due to meet up with a reviewer to look at my book exhibition at the gallery.  For some reason though, she thought she’d go to my studio first – while I of course went to the gallery. It was then after waiting half an hour with no show, I realised that I’d left my phone still charging at home. Should I wait longer or go home and get it??

I went home… only to find several frantic messages.  Buggar.

I got to the studio, where thankfully, Brigitte (studio manager) had provided coffee and both were deep in conversation about the studio plans by the time I got there.

The Williamson is only 5 mins walk from the studio, but with the mix up, the hour long interview turned into three .

It was good though – its always very useful to be asked about projects as it makes me think about why I’ve done something. Its so easy to say that I’ve done something because it felt right at the time, but while being prompted, I suddenly realise Well actually, this happened and then I saw this..and that made me want to explore this ..etc etc…

I enjoyed that.

Shopping, dog walks and washing, meant my day off was virtually done. Back to work again tomorrow.

Please let me win the lottery so that I can go back to part time :(